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Hunter rescues Cruise and partners with Van Mildert

Sir Tom Hunter has rescued Cruise from administration and entered into a joint venture agreement with Van Mildert, which will see the Middlesbrough mini-chain take control of all of Cruise’s buying.

Hunter, who has been linked to a deal to buy Scottish chain Cruise since before Christmas, rescued the 10-store chain from administrators Deloitte today. Cruise fell into administration after a period of difficult trading, which was exacerbated by the bad weather in its key locations.

Hunter confirmed he would continue to trade all 10 of Cruise’s shops and said he would shortly announce an “innovative shareholding structure” for the business. It is unclear how the buying partnership with five-store chain Van Mildert will work financially at this stage.

Hunter added that he was undertaking a strategic review of Cruise to firm up a growth plan for the chain.

The rescue comes just weeks after Hunter sold his footwear chain Office for an undisclosed sum.

Hunter said: “Cruise is an iconic brand that requires investment for growth. It’s a business I am delighted to invest in. Combining the acquisition with a partnership with Van Mildert, an exceptional fashion business in my view, offers a strong platform from which to build both businesses.”

Eric Williams, director of Van Mildert, which took home several gongs including Independent Retailer of the Year, from the Drapers Awards 2009, added: “The Van Mildert brand has enjoyed robust growth over the last 12 months, opening new stores and also winning an unprecedented three Drapers Awards. It is flattering to have caught the attention of Sir Tom and his team and I am sure that this collaboration will inevitably lead to exciting new ideas about how we continue to take both brands forward.”

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